DIY : Rock Stacks (Cairns)

The act of balancing rocks may seem totally pointless, but it can be fun, challenging, and even meditative process. Rock stacks, also known as cairns, can serve practical, recreational, and spiritual purposes. Hikers may mark trails with cairns to find their way home; adventurers may stack stones to take a break from their activity; nature lovers and zen seekers may find refuge in the process of physically balancing stones. No matter the function of rock stacks, they are all consistently made only of rocks, without the use of glue or mud. As artist Michael Grab demonstrates in the video below, gravity is the glue.

Get Started!

Al you need is a stable surface, steady hands, a variety of rocks, and lots of patience!

Scout your location. I love stacking cairns in dry creek beds, where an abundance of rocks, stones, pebbles can be found. You don’t need to trek out into wilderness to stack rocks, however. Explore your backyard, the neighborhood park, or even a gravel pit by your school or work.

Collect rocks. You could choose a diverse range of stones that embody many shapes, sizes, and textures, or you could decide to select rocks that are all smooth and round, or chunky and textured. The types of rocks available will depend heavily on your location.

Begin stacking! It’s easiest to start with a large, stable foundation. Choose a wide rock with a flat top that will give you lots of room to build onto, and also provide a steady center of gravity. Keep in mind that as you add each rock, pressure is added to the rocks beneath it, which may shift their center of gravity.

Work slowly. Instead of simply stacking rocks haphazardly, carefully and thoughtfully place each one. Gradually let the weight of a rock rest on the stack, testing the stability. If a rock is unstable, try placing it in a different orientation. Think about the game Jenga, except you are adding pieces rather than removing them.

Get creative! Experiment with rocks of unusual shapes and sizes. Try balancing larger rocks on top of smaller ones. Try turning stones on their different sides. Construct a rock stack city with your friends. Compete to see who can build the tallest stack or more ‘precarious’ stack. Collaborate to decorate your rock stack with leaves, twigs, flowers, grass, or even water droplets. Build a rock stack in all your favorite parks.

Photograph your rock stacks and post them in the comments below!


Get Inspired!


Watch Michael Grab’s bold balancing act in the middle of a rushing creek:



DIY Nature Art : Snow Sculptures!

Winter time can be difficult during periods of rough, cold weather. Beat cabin fever and get outside to make art with snow! Create lively snow sculptures of animals, objects, or people. Take a cue from Andy Goldsworthy, and fashion abstract constructions that stand alone, or are supported by trees or rocks. Wear gloves, and let the cold fuel your creativity.
Get Started!

Materials: an abundant amount of snow, freezing temperatures, and a few shaping tools (you can find sticks, twigs, angular rocks, or tools you brought from home)


  • Find a large mound of snow, or use a shovel to make a mound of tightly packed snow. It can be as large or as small as you wish.
  • Remove the excess snow to create a rough outline of your snow sculpture. Use your hands, sticks, or wedge rocks to help shape your snow.
  • Use smaller tools to add finer detail to the sculpture.


  • Spray with water to help it freeze overnight
  • If your sculpture will be large or will feature extensions, try constructing a simple frame or anchor out of branches or sticks into which snow is tightly packed.
  • Repairs can be made with a quick-freezing mixture of snow and water.
Get Inspired!

Watch these two create a snow elephant, complete with working trunk!



Works by Andy Goldsworthy:

DIY Nature Art : Flower Crowns!

Flower crowns aren’t just for fairies, princesses, or little girls. Everyone can wear a flower crown! These beautiful accessories are very easy to make and wear. Plus, you’ll get to go frolic in a field somewhere.

Get Started!

Materials: Wildflowers and scissors, clippers, or a pocketknife

Step 1: Cut down the flowers to 5-7 inches long. Take off extra greenery.

Step 2: Cross one flower over the other.

Step 3: Take the top flower and wrap it under the bottom and then up to the top again. Bring it down to lay with the first stem. The tighter you do this, the more secure the crown.

Step 4: Lay the next flower down close to the second and repeat the process.

Step 5: When you reach the right length for the shape of the head, weave in the ends of the stems into the first flowers.

 Step 5: Now sport it! To create a fuller crown, weave in more flowers. For variation, try varying the flowers for different patterns. Your flower crown could change with the seasons. Try adding leaves, small twigs, and other accoutrements!

DIY Nature Art : Floating Boats!

You don’t have to be a carpenter to build a boat. Try your hand at captain, and set sail.

1. You’ll need to find a flat bit of soft, dead wood. Chunks of bark work very well!

2. Find a straight, sturdy stick, that isn’t too big. Push the stick into the middle of the boat to act as the mast. If the stick is too heavy, the boat will tip. Experiment with sizes.

3. Gather leaves and thread them onto the mast to act as sails. Fall is an excellent time to search for leaves because there are so many different colors available.

4. Now put your boat on the water and watch it set sail!

5. Play with friends and see how many boats you can sail at once. Experiment with different leaves from different trees. How does the shape of the wooden bottom affect the way the boat floats?

DIY Nature Art : Terrariums!

Terrariums are simple to make, gorgeous to look at, and easy to care for. Make one or a few for yourself and your friends!

  • wide, clear, lidded container (like a jar or bowl)
  • pebbles
  • activated carbon (sold at pet stores)
  • soil
  • stones, moss, and small plants (you can collect these in the woods! Or try succulents)
  • spray mister
  • decorations (optional)


  1. Cover the bottom of your container with an inch of pebbles.
  2. Add a layer of activated carbon to curb any earthy odors, then top it with 3 inches of soil.
  3. Arrange the stones, moss, and plants to make a garden.
  4. Mist the terrarium with water until the soil is moist but not wet. Add decorations, if you like, then close the lid. If the container becomes cloudy, remove the top to let excess moisture evaporate. Mist the terrarium lightly if the soil starts to dry out.

Featured Artist : Andy Goldsworthy

Engaging in outdoor art-making since the 1970s, Andy Goldsworthy is the most well-known environmental artist of our time. Decades of practice have nurtured a humble and sensitive attention to form, light, color, condition, and temporality. His works range from delicate and transitory arrangements to massive, sturdy installations. Like many land artists, he uses only natural materials found at the site of construction, foregoing the use of glue, rope, or other manmade tools with the intent to gain an understanding of the natural material’s intrinsic qualities. Through the manipulation of leaves, sticks, stones, dirt, feathers, and even icicles, Goldsworthy dazzles us with stunning beauty and demands an appreciation of nature’s own creations.

Most notable, perhaps is the inherent temporal nature of his installations. Goldsworthy taps into nature’s uncertainty, and this tension is present in his works. Much like Money and the impressionist, Goldsworthy pays close attention to the way sunlight falls on objects or the way wind may animate leaves. “I have become aware of how nature is in a state of change and how that change is the key to understanding. I want my art to be sensitive and alert to changes in material, season and weather… My sculpture can last for days or a few seconds – what is important for me is the experience of making. I leave all my work outside and often return to watch it decay” (Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue: Selected Extracts).

Goldsworthy’s use of photography is an important aspect of his practice. Beginning strictly as a documentary practice, his photography evolved into a means of capturing, archiving, and sharing his temporal pieces. “It is well known that every ephemeral work that Goldsworthy has made is invariably photographed, always immediately following the making, and often in revisiting the work. He has described the process of photography as one that is ‘routine’ and ‘demanding.’ Certainly in terms of the setting up, timing, viewing, and awareness that it requires of Goldsworthy, the photographing process constitutes a performative corollary to the making of the sculpture” (Andy Goldsworthy : Digital Catalogue). Goldsworthy takes all the photographs himself, using three separate cameras, and regular lenses with no filters. He prefers maximum depth of field and brackets his exposures to produce the greatest range of quality and ensure the influences of the constantly fluctuating environment are not overlooked. “If the work is one that is ‘activated’ by a particular type of lighting, or by the flow of water or incoming tide for instance, or is ‘time-based’, then Goldsworthy will take multiple successive shots, usually framed from the same vantage point” (Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue : Photography). Goldsworthy utilizes the photographic evidence of his work as a means of reflection, to reassess the piece and inform future projects.

Since much of Goldsworthy’s sculptures and installations are created in private or remote areas, and begin to fade away the before they are even complete, the photographic renderings of his work are often the only manifestation of his genius that the public is blessed to experience. Through exhibitions or published images, Goldsworthy mediates the accessibility to his work by which pieces are chosen to be printed and the manner in which the piece is photographed and ultimately viewed. I personally consider these photographs as incredible gifts; the probability that I will ever be present in the moment of a Goldsworthy creation is rare, so their photographic likeness fixed in time is a blessing.

The Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue is an extensive archive of his work. This incredible resources is a collaborative effort between Andy Goldsworthy, The Crichton Foundation, and the University of Glasgow’s Crichton Campus and Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII). Documenting over 2700 of Goldsworthy’s scultpures during a ten year period (1976-1986), the result is unprecedented access to his portfolio and sketchbook diaries, as well as several interviews and reflections on specific pieces.  Users may search works by date, form, material, and place, and view quality images of the installations, which only existed for a brief moment in time.

To learn more about Andy Goldsworthy and his incredible work, check out Rivers and Tides, a moving documentary that paints a portrait of the artist and his work. The first movie allowed to be made of his process, Director Thomas Riedelsheimer takes us on a journey through four countries, across four seasons, and reveals the unpredictability of Goldsworthy’s elusive process.



Works by Goldsworthy: 

Feathers plucked from dead heron, cut with sharp stone, stripped down one side // About three-and-a-half feet overall length // Made over three calm days, cold mornings, frost // smell from heron becoming pungent as each day warmed up // Swindale Beck Wood, Cumbria // 24- 26 February 1982

Partly stripped sycamore twigs // Ilkley, Yorkshire // April 1978

Stacked icicles, about 8 inches in length // Morecambe Bay, Lancashire // February 1978

Sycamore leaves, stitched together with stalks, hung from a tree // Glasgow, Lanarkshire // 1 November 1986

DIY : Green Graffiti

“Traditional Graffiti” may sound like an oxymoron, especially considering that its prevalence is a relatively new idea in the history of art. Only recently has it become even marginally accepted in  urban spaces. Yet, the newest form of graffiti casts rogue tagging and spray cans as a thing of the past. The unfortunate truth of many artistic mediums, is their negative impact on the health of the planet. Spray paint in particular contains substances, including lead, cadmium, formaldehyde, CFCs, and other chemicals that are harmful to the health of our bodies, air, and greater environment (Stencil Revolution). Green graffiti is the environmentally friendly answer to street art. As moss artist Anna Garforth explains, “I enjoy the tactility of working with organic mediums and learning how to craft it into something else. no harmful toxins or bad fumes are involved. It takes me to interesting places both through the process and working on commissions around europe. above all it gets a really positive response and people love it! (Designboom). Easy to prepare, ecologically sensible, and exciting to watch grow over time, painting with moss will make you feel better about sneaking your stencils around town.


Get Started!

Complete instructions are listed below. For visual learners, check out this awesome video to see the preparation process:


Butter Milk
Paint Brush


1. Decide on an image and location. For your first attempt, use a simple image. Also, choose a wall that does not get extended periods of direct sunlight. Alleyways are excellent places to paint moss graffiti, since the buildings usually block the sun for most of the day.

2. Transfer onto the wall in chalk. Use a stencil, draw freehand, or try an overhead projector to trace your image.

2. Collect a handful of moss. Once you start looking for it you’ll see it everywhere! Look on shady trees or boulders near a park or forest.

3. Wash as much of the dirt and plant matter off the underside of moss as possible.

4. Place the moss into the blender.

5. Add a table spoon or two of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter milk.

6. Blend to the consistency of a thick milkshake. Add some water if your mixture is too thick.

7. Pour mixture into a container with a lid.

8. Using a paint brush, paint on the moss mixture onto the wall in the shape of your image.

9. Keep the additional moss mixture in the fridge. We’ve been reapplying the moss mixture every second day and on the alternative day spritzing the area with water.

Check back: After a week you’ll already starting to see the moss establish itself on the wall. Expect about a month to pass until it’s fully established.


Get Inspired!

Check out the work of Hungarian artist Edina Mosstika, who engages the public directly with moss and grass stencils in subways and other high traffic areas. She is also the founder of Mosstika Urban Greenery, “a collective of eco-minded artists dedicated to green guerilla tactics and inspired public art.”

More Moss Graffiti!